After three years of successful operation with 11 Toyota Avensis cars, doctors making out-of-hours home visits in and around Suffolk are looking forward to the arrival of the latest models. Nine new vehicles have been delivered – as well as a pair of four-wheel-drive Toyota RAV4s.
Suffolk Doctors on Call is an independently run out-of-hours GP service. From its control centre in Ipswich, SDOC co-ordinates the overnight assignments of duty doctors working from 12 well-equipped bases, covering the whole county as well as parts of Cambridgeshire and Essex.
The doctors always have one of the 2.0-litre diesel estates and a driver at their disposal. The control centre stays in permanent contact with the doctors and is always aware of the cars’ exact location. The vehicles have been averaging 20-25,000 miles a year.
Because SDOC’s contract now covers the Fenlands as well as coastal areas of Suffolk, the company decided to specify two RAV4s as well as the Avensis estates this time round. “We require their go-anywhere ability,” said SDOC’s Chief Executive David Cocks.
“The fact that we’re replacing Avensis estates like for like with the new model speaks volumes,” he said. “Everyone’s been very happy with the cars and everything has seemed to work as it should do in the time we’ve had them.
“Although we are not an emergency service we respond to urgent medical conditions, so reliability is the most important consideration for us – along with the suitability of the vehicles to do the job, and the cost of running them.”
The Toyotas are obtained on a finance lease through Bank of Scotland, with all the buying and much of the maintenance handled by local business centre Ipswich Toyota. “Some of the servicing is handled through others dealers local to our various bases, and we want to build up our relationship with them as well,” said Mr Cocks.
“We bought the original cars on an ad hoc basis, so this has been the first time we’ve dealt with Toyota Fleet, because we decided to hold off replacement until we were ready to order most of the new cars at the same time,” said David Cocks. “Toyota Fleet helped to make sure we got the best deal on the new vehicles.”